Tender procedures must be clearly set out and recorded to ensure evidence of full compliance with the Code. Care should be taken regarding the receipt, recording, assessment, confidentiality etc. of all communications including verbal, written and electronic methods. Audits may be undertaken at any stage of the tender process by internal or external auditors such as the Victorian Auditor General's Office or the Ombudsman.
The standard tender process consists of 4 main stages:
As shown in the following Table 1 stages of the tender process, the key components of each stage are listed, together with the typical responsibilities for each component.
Note: In a two stage tender process, the tender and evaluation processes are effectively repeated for both EOI and detailed RFT.
An important early stage of the tender process is the formation of a tender selection panel (SP). The SP (usually at least 3 members) is drawn from members of the project control group (PCG) including an agency, Department of Health and Human Services, and consultants representative, e.g. principal consultant and / or the quantity surveyor.
The SP appoints a chair and also nominates a single point of contact for the information of all tenderers. The nominated contact person shall record all communications regarding the tender process, control site visits and contact with the agency on-site personnel, respond to tenderers seeking clarification, issue addenda if required, arrange SP meetings, interviews and ensure the steps in the process are followed.
The SP responsibilities include:
- tender behaviour abides with relevant legislation and the code
- declare and manage any potential conflicts of interest
- ensure probity, ensure confidentiality and maintain an audit trail
- facilitate any necessary inspections, briefings or site inductions provided for prospective tenderers.
Table 1 - Stages of the Tender Process
|1. Pre-tender stage||
2. Tender stage (may be two part depending on selected tendering method)
3. Evaluation stage
4. Contract award stage
The stages are for 'normal' projects, using standard contract documents. The stages are equally applicable to lump sum and construction management tenders.
Opening of tenders and approval to accept a tender
To ensure that proper recording of submitted tenders is carried out, the SP must adopt a formal procedure for the receipt and opening of tenders. If not using the department's formal tender closing process, tenders are to be closed in the health service / agency offices with suitable facilities and processes.
The tender opening process requires that an opening panel of at least two persons should be constituted. One of these people must be an officer of the department or agency with knowledge of probity and confidentiality. It is normal practice to have a tender box that can be secured (i.e. locked) available until tender close and only tenders received on time shall be considered for evaluation. Tenders for publicly funded projects shall not be received in consultant's offices.
The date and time for receipt of tenders should be at a predetermined place, time and day as required by the code and the opening of tenders should record in order of opening the relevant tender summary details as listed below. Any tenders received after the nominated date and time shall be marked as such, shall remain unopened and shall be returned to the submitting party.
Tenders usually close at 2:00 PM on a Thursday, which is not either side of a public holiday.
Tender opening summary form
The tender brief should clearly specify the information required to be included in tenders. The following information shall be recorded on the tender opening summary form:
- the full legal name of the tenderer
- ACN / ABN of tenderer
- building practitioner number
- tendered price.
Note that where a tenderer provides an alternative tender, this should be included on a separate line of the tender opening summary form.
The SP are to ensure that tenderers submit a tender price, which is fully conforming for all works described in the documentation and that there are no conditions, exclusions or exceptions.
Tenderers may offer alternative tender prices providing that a conforming tender is also submitted and all technical details of the alternative are provided including performance characteristics of proposed materials, timing, warranties and so forth.
Tenders must be provided on the approved document formats or in the manner set out in the tender EOI or RFT.
Under no circumstances will late tenders be considered.
Following the opening, a tender evaluation should be undertaken and a tender evaluation and recommendation report prepared by the SP with input from the project manager, principal consultant and quantity surveyor. Approval to accept a tender is based on the tender evaluation and recommendation report by the SP, and following endorsement by the PCG.
Where relevant, alternative options are deemed appropriate to consider, the tender provides for the inclusion or exclusion of separable works packages, the SP may:
- undertake negotiations with a schedule of amendments to the documents or tender to comply with the project budget
- record all negotiations to clearly illustrate how the final decision has been reached
- ensure the code stipulates that negotiations must commence with the best value tender and be completed prior to going to next best value conforming tender if required
- negotiation may include seeking comments or clarifications from the preferred tenderer regarding options or alternative proposals, where savings may be achieved, without affecting the facilities performance requirements.
It is important to retain records of the negotiations so that agreed changes be incorporated into the contract and referenced during the contract administration stage of the project.
The PCG will give due consideration to the tender evaluation and recommendation report from the SP and ensure all conditions of the act, MDs, associated guides, practice notes and the code have been met.
Upon endorsement of the SP tender evaluation and recommendation report by the PCG, the health service / agency shall obtain departmental approval before any commitments are made, contracts are executed, letters sent, insurances and permits sought and works commence.
Following the SP report to the PCG (with representation from the health service / agency and the department) endorsement the preferred tenderer can be notified of their preferred status. No letter of intent or letter of appointment shall be issued to the preferred tenderer until formal notice has been provided by the Minister or delegate to the principal of the contract.
All unsuccessful tenderers should also be notified of the outcome following a letter of acceptance being issued. Unsuccessful tenderers should be provided with the contact details of a nominated representative of the SP who can provide feedback. All feedback provided should be positive and relate to the tenderer's own submission so as to assist the tenderer with future tenders. No reference should be made to other submissions, other than the name and amount of the successful tender.
The appointment of a contractor shall also be publicly notified, such as through the ‘Tenders Vic' web site.